Dec 11, 2022 - Science
NASA's Orion capsule is back on Earth after journey around the Moon
NASA's Orion spacecraft is back on Earth after its flight around the Moon.
Why it matters: The uncrewed capsule's splashdown in the Pacific brings the space agency's first Artemis mission to a successful end, testing out some of the technology needed to one day send people to the surface of the Moon.
Driving the news: Orion splashed down under its parachutes in the ocean at about 12:39pm ET.
- The capsule successfully executed its "skip entry" return to Earth by skimming the planet's upper atmosphere, skipping back out and then re-entering, coming down under parachutes.
- "The latest chapter in NASA's journey back to the surface of the Moon comes to a close," NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said during the webcast of the splashdown. "Orion is back on Earth."
The big picture: NASA could send people back to the lunar surface as soon as 2025, but its next Artemis mission will see a crew of astronauts circle the Moon before coming back to Earth.
- Before people can land on the Moon, however, companies partnering with NASA will need to deliver a lunar lander and spacesuits for use on the Moon.